Liberal women set up fighting fund

Kelly O’Dwyer says the Liberal Party needs to do more to encourage women to run for parliament.Female federal Liberal MPs are putting together a fighting fund to boost their ranks within parliament.

Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer says she will personally cross the country raising money to promote female conservative candidates at the next federal election.

She has acknowledged there is clearly much more work for the Liberal Party to do in encouraging women to put their hand up to run for parliament.

Ms O’Dwyer has regular meetings with female colleagues – “some of our male colleagues refer to it as secret women’s business” – to examine the barriers, including a discussion over the past fortnight about putting their money where their mouths are.

“When women put their hand up, they need to be able to know that they have got the financial firepower behind them to run effective campaigns,” she told the National Press Club in Canberra on Tuesday.

“And so we are talking about putting together a federal fighting fund for women and I have committed to them that I’m happy to go around the country fundraising for my colleagues for that purpose.”

But she also says the party has to back women in order to lift their representation from its current dismal 21 per cent.

“We need to be pretty frank with the party organisation when we say, you know, the buck stops with you,” she said.

“You need to highlight the fact that we need to get more women into parliament and we need to look at what barriers that are there and how we can eliminate them.”

The Liberal Party recently adopted a non-binding target to increase its female representation to half of its seats in both houses of parliament by 2025.

Labor has had a quota for female representation since 1994 and increased this in 2015 to aiming for half of all MPs to be women by 2025.

It also ensures women are chosen to run for winnable seats and has had the financial backing of Emily’s List for more than two decades.

At the moment, women make up 44 per cent of Labor’s federal ranks.

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